The Widow's Tears

by George Chapman








Tharsalio, the wooer.

Lysander, his brother.

     Cynthia, wife to Lysander.

          Ero, waiting-woman to Cynthia.

     Hylus, son to Lysander, nephew to Tharsalio.

Eudora, the widow countess.

          Sthenia, gentlewoman attending on Eudora.

          Ianthe, gentlewoman attending on Eudora.

          Clinias, a servant to Eudora.

          Lycus, a servant to Eudora.

          Argus, gentleman usher to Eudora

     Laodice, daughter to Eudora.

Rebus, a suitor to Eudora.

     Hiarbas, Friend to Rebus.

     Psorabeus, Friend to Rebus.

The Governor of Cyprus

Captain of the Watch

Two Soldiers

Arsace, a pandress.

Thomasin, a courtesan

The Scene:

Paphos, on the Island of Cyprus.



A Room in the House of Lysander.

Enter Tharsalio solus, with a glass in his hand,

making ready.

Thar.  Thou blind imperfect goddess, that delights

(Like a deep-reaching statesman) to converse

Only with fools, jealous of knowing spirits,

For fear their piercing judgments might discover

Thy inward weakness and despise thy power,

Contemn thee for a goddess; thou that lad'st

Th' unworthy ass with gold, while worth and merit

Serve thee for nought, weak Fortune, I renounce

Thy vain dependance, and convert my duty

And sacrifices of my sweetest thoughts

To a more noble deity, sole friend to worth,

And patroness of all good spirits, Confidence;

She be my guide, and hers the praise of these

My worthy undertakings.

Enter Lysander with a glass in his hand,

Cynthia, Hylus, Ero.

Lys. Morrow, brother! Not ready yet?

Thar.  No; I have somewhat of the brother in me.

I dare say your wife is many times ready, and you

not up − Save you, sister; how are you enamoured

of my presence? How like you my aspect?

Cyn.  Faith, no worse than I did last week; the weather

has nothing changed the grain of your complexion.

Thar.  A firm proof 'tis in grain, and so are not all

complexions. A good soldier's face, sister!

Cyn.  Made to be worn under a beaver.

Thar.  Ay, and 'twould show well enough under a mask,


Lys.  So much for the face!

Thar.  But is there no object in this suit to whet your

tongue upon?

Lys.  None, but Fortune send you well to wear it; for 

she best knows how you got it.

Thar.  Faith, 'tis the portion she bestows upon younger

brothers, valour and good clothes. Marry, if you ask

how we come by this new suit, I must take time to

answer it; for as the ballad says, In written books I 

find it. Brother, these are the blossoms of spirit; and I 

will have it said for my father's honour, that some of 

his children were truly begotten.

Lys.  Not all?

Thar.  Shall I tell you, brother, that I know will rejoice

you? My former suits have been all spenders; this shall

be a speeder.

Lys.  A thing to be heartily wished; but, brother, take

heed you be not gulled; be not too forward.

Thar.  'T had been well for me if you had followed that

counsel. You were too forward when you stepped into

the world before me and gulled me of the land that my

spirits and parts were indeed born to.

Cyn.  May we not have the blessing to know the aim of

your fortunes? What coast, for Heaven's love?

Thar.  Nay, 'tis a project of state: you may see the

preparation, but the design lies hidden in the breasts of

the wise.

Lys.  May we not know't?

Thar.  Not unless you'll promise me to laugh at it, for

without your applause I'll none.

Lys.  The quality of it may be such as a laugh will not 

be ill bestowed upon't; pray Heaven I call not Arsace 


Cyn.  What, the pandress?

Thar.  Know you (as who knows not?) the exquisite 

lady of the palace, the late governor's admired widow, 

the rich and haughty Countess Eudora? Were not she a

jewel worth the wearing, if a man knew how to win her?

Lys.  How's that, how's that?

Thar.  Brother, there is a certain goddess called

Confidence, that carries a main stroke in honourable

preferments. Fortune waits upon her, Cupid is at her

beck; she sends them both of errands. This deity doth

promise me much assistance in this business.

Lys.  But if this deity should draw you up in a basket to

your countess's window, and there let you hang for all

the wits in the town to shoot at; how then?

Thar.  If she do, let them shoot their bolts and spare

not; I have a little bird in a cage here that sings me 

better comfort. What should be the bar? You'll say,

I was page to the Count her husband. What of that? I

have thereby one foot in her favour already. She has

taken note of my spirit and surveyed my good parts,

and the picture of them lives in her eye; which sleep, I

know, cannot close till she have embraced the


Lys.  All this savours of the blind goddess you speak of.

Thar.  Why should I despair but that Cupid hath one 

dart in store for her great ladyship, as well as for any 

other huge lady whom she hath made stoop gallant to

kiss their worthy followers? In a word, I am assured

of my speed. Such fair attempts led by a brave resolve

are evermore seconded by Fortune.

Cyn.  But, brother, have I not heard you say your own

ears have been witness to her vows, made solemnly to

your late lord, in memory of him to preserve till death

the unstained honour of a widow's bed? If nothing else,

yet that might cool your confidence.

Thar.  Tush, sister! Suppose you should protest with

solemn oath (as perhaps you have done) if ever Heaven

hears your prayers that you may live to see my brother

nobly interred, to feed only upon fish and not endure the

touch of flesh during the wretched Lent of your

miserable life; would you believe it, brother?

Lys.  I am therein most confident.

Thar.  Indeed you had better believe it than try it. But

pray, sister, tell me − you are a woman − do not you

wives nod your heads and smile one upon another when

ye meet abroad?

Cyn.  Smile? Why so?

Thar.  As who should say, “Are not we mad wenches,

that can lead our blind husbands thus by the noses?” Do

you not brag among yourselves how grossly you abuse

their honest credulities? How they adore you for saints,

and you believe it, while you adhorn their temples, and

they believe it not? How you vow widowhood in their

lifetime and they believe you, when even in the sight of

their breathless corse, ere they be fully cold, you join

embraces with his groom, or his physician, and perhaps

his poisoner; or at least, by the next moon (if you can

expect so long) solemnly plight new hymeneal bonds,

with a wild, confident, untamed ruffian –

Lys.  As for example?

Thar.  And make him the top of his house and 

sovereign lord of the palace? As for example, look you,

brother, this glass is mine –

Lys.  What of that?

Thar.  While I am with it, it takes impression from my

face; but can I make it so mine, that it shall be of no use

to any other? Will it not do his office to you or you; and

as well to my groom as to myself? Brother, monopolies

are cried down. Is it not madness for me to believe,

when I have conquered that fort of chastity the great

Countess, that if another man of my making and mettle

shall assault her, her eyes and ears should lose their

function, her other parts their use, as if Nature had made

her all in vain, unless I only had stumbled into her


Cyn.  Brother, I fear me in your travels, you have drunk

too much of that Italian air, that hath infected the whole

mass of your ingenuous nature, dried up in you all sap 

of generous disposition, poisoned the very essence of 

your soul, and so polluted your senses that whatsoever

enters there takes from them contagion and is to your

fancy represented as foul and tainted, which in itself,

perhaps, is spotless.

Thar.  No, sister, it hath refined my senses, and made 

me see with clear eyes, and to judge of objects as they 

truly are, not as they seem, and through their mask to

discern the true face of things. It tells me how short-

lived widows' tears are, that their weeping is in truth 

but laughing under a mask, that they mourn in their 

gowns and laugh in their sleeves; all which I believe

as a Delphian oracle, and am resolved to burn in that 

faith. And in that resolution do I march to the great 


Lys.  You lose time, brother, in discourse; by this had

you bore up with the lady, and clapped her aboard, for

I know your confidence will not dwell long in the


Thar.  No, I will perform it in the conqueror's style.

Your way is not to win Penelope by suit, but by

surprise. The castle's carried by a sudden assault, that

would perhaps sit out a twelvemonth's siege. It would 

be a good breeding to my young nephew here, if he

could procure a stand at the palace to see with what

alacrity I'll acoast her countess-ship, in what garb I will

woo her, with what facility I will win her.

Lys.  It shall go hard but we'll hear your entertainment

for your confidence sake.

Thar.  And having won her, nephew, this sweet face,

Which all the city says is so like me,

Like me shall be preferred, for I will wed thee

To my great widow's daughter and sole heir,

The lovely spark, the bright Laodicè.

Lys.  A good pleasant dream!

Thar.                                   In this eye I see

That fire that shall in me inflame the mother,

And that in this shall set on fire the daughter.

It goes, sir, in a blood; believe me, brother,

These destinies go ever in a blood.

Lys.  These diseases do, brother, take heed of them; 

fare you well; take heed you be not baffled.

[Exeunt Lysander, Cynthia, Hylus, Ero;

manet Tharsalio.]

Thar.  Now, thou that art the third blind deity

That governs earth in all her happiness,

The life of all endowments. Confidence,

Direct and prosper my intentiön.

Command thy servant deities, Love and Fortune,

To second my attempts for this great lady,

Whose page I lately was; that she, whose board

I might not sit at, I may board abed,

And under bring, who bore so high her head.



A Room in the House of Eudora.

Enter Lysander, Lycus.

Lycus.  'Tis miraculous that you tell me, sir; he come to

woo our lady mistress for his wife?

Lys.  'Tis a frenzy he is possessed with, and will not be

cured but by some violent remedy. And you shall favour

me so much to make me a spectator of the scene. But is

she, say you, already accessible for suitors? I thought

she would have stood so stiffly on her widow vow, that

she would not endure the sight of a suitor.

Lycus.  Faith, sir, Penelope could not bar her gates

against her wooers; but she will still be mistress of

herself. It is, you know, a certain itch in female blood:

they love to be sued to; but she'll hearken to no suitors.

Lys.  But by your leave, Lycus, Penelope is not so wise

as her husband Ulysses, for he, fearing the jaws of the

Siren, stopped his ears with wax against her voice. 

They that fear the adder's sting, will not come near her

hissing. Is any suitor with her now?

Lycus.  A Spartan lord, dating himself our great 

Viceroy's kinsman, and two or three other of his 

country lords as spots in his train. He comes armed

with his Altitude's letters in grace of his person, with

promise to make her a duchess if she embrace the

match. This is no mean attraction to her high thoughts;

but yet she disdains him.

Lys.  And how then shall my brother presume of

acceptance? Yet I hold it much more under her

contentment to marry such a nasty braggart, than under

her honour to wed my brother − a gentleman, (though I

say't) more honourably descended than that lord, who,

perhaps, for all his ancestry, would be much troubled to

name you the place where his father was born.

Lycus.  Nay, I hold no comparison betwixt your brother

and him. And the venerean disease, to which they say

he has been long wedded, shall, I hope, first rot him, 

ere she endure the savour of his sulphurous breath.

Well, her ladyship is at hand; y' are best take you to

your stand.

Lys.  Thanks, good friend Lycus!


Enter Argus, barehead, with whom another usher,

Lycus, joins, going over the stage.

Hiarbas and Psorabeus next, Rebus single before

Eudora, Laodice;

Sthenia bearing her train, Ianthe following.

Reb.  I admire, madam, you cannot love whom the

Viceroy loves.

Hiar.  And one whose veins swell so with his blood,

madam, as they do in his lordship.

Psor.  A near and dear kinsman his lordship is to his

Altitude the Viceroy; in care of whose good speed here

I know his Altitude hath not slept a sound sleep since 

his departure.

Eud.  I thank Venus I have, ever since he came.

Reb.  You sleep away your honour, madam, if you

neglect me.

Hiar.  Neglect your lordship? That were a negligence

no less than disloyalty.

Eud.  I much doubt that, sir; it were rather a 

presumption to take him, being of the blood viceroyal.

Reb.  Not at all, being offered, madam.

Eud.  But offered ware is not so sweet, you know. 

They are the graces of the Viceroy that woo me, not 

your lordship's, and I conceive it should be neither

honour nor pleasure to you to be taken in for another

man's favours.

Reb.  Taken in, madam? You speak as I had no house

to hide my head in.

Eud.  I have heard so indeed, my lord, unless it be

another man's.

Reb.  You have heard untruth then; these lords can well

witness I can want no houses.

Hiar.  Nor palaces, neither, my lord!

Psor.  Nor courts neither!

Eud.  Nor temples, I think, neither; I believe we shall

have a god of him.

Enter Tharsalio.

Arg.  See the bold fellow! Whither will you, sir?

Thar.  Away! − All honour to you, madam!

Eud.  How now, base companion?

Thar.  Base, madam? He's not base that fights as high

as your lips.

Eud.  And does that beseem my servant?

Thar.  Your court-servant, madam.

Eud.  One that waited on my board?

Thar.  That was only a preparation to my weight on 

your bed, madam.

Eud.  How dar'st thou come to me with such a thought?

Thar.  Come to you, madam? I dare come to you at

midnight, and bid defiance to the proudest spirit that

haunts these your loved shadows, and would any way

make terrible the access of my love to you.

Eud.  Love me? Love my dog!

Thar.  I am bound to that by the proverb, madam.

Eud.  Kennel without with him; intrude not here. What

is it thou presum'st on?

Thar.  On your judgment, madam, to choose a man, 

and not a giant; as these are that come with titles and

authority, as they would conquer or ravish you. But I

come to you with the liberal and ingenuous graces, love,

youth, and gentry; which (in no more deformed a person

than myself) deserve any princess.

Eud.  In your saucy opinion, sir, and sirrah too! Get

gone, and let this malapert humour return thee no more,

for, afore Heaven, I'll have thee tossed in blankets.

Thar.  In blankets, madam? You must add your sheets,

and you must be the tosser.

Reb.  Nay, then, sir, y' are as gross as you are saucy.

Thar.  And all one, sir, for I am neither.

Reb.  [drawing] Thou art both.

Thar.  Thou liest; keep up your smiter, Lord Rebus.

Hiar.  Usest thou thus his Altitude's cousin?

Reb.  The place, thou know'st, protects thee.

Thar.  Tie up your valour then till another place turn me

loose to you. You are the lord, I take it, that wooed my

great mistress here with letters from his Altitude; which

while she was reading, your lordship (to entertain time)

straddled and scaled your fingers, as you would show

what an itching desire you had to get betwixt her sheets.

Hiar.  'Slight, why does your lordship endure him?

Reb.  The place, the place, my lord!

Thar.  Be you his attorney, sir.

Hiar.  What would you do, sir?

Thar.  Make thee leap out at window at which thou

cam'st in. Whoreson bagpipe lords!

Eud.  What rudeness is this?

Thar.  What tameness is it in you, madam, to stick at

the discarding of such a suitor? A lean lord, dubbed with

the lard of others! A diseased lord, too, that opening

certain magic characters in an unlawful book, up start as

many aches in's bones, as there are ouches in's skin.

Send him, mistress, to the widow your tenant, the

virtuous pandress Arsace. I perceive he has crowns 

in's purse, that make him proud of a string; let her pluck

the goose therefore, and her maids dress him.

Psor.  Still, my lord, suffer him?

Reb.  The place, sir, believe it, the place!

Thar.  O, good Lord Rebus, the place is never like to be

yours that you need respect it so much.

Eud.  Thou wrong'st the noble gentleman.

Thar.  Noble gentleman? A tumour, an imposthume, he

is, madam: a very hautboy, a bag-pipe, in whom there is

nothing but wind, and that none of the sweetest


Eud.  Quit the house of him by th' head and shoulders!

Thar.  Thanks to your honour, madam, and my lord

cousin, the Viceroy, shall thank you.

Reb.  So shall he indeed, sir.

Lycus, Arg.  Will you begone, sir?

Thar.  Away, poor fellows!

Eud.  What is he made of, or what devil sees

Your childish and effeminate spirits in him,

That thus ye shun him? Free us of thy sight.

Begone, or I protest thy life shall go!

Thar.  Yet shall my ghost stay still, and haunt those beauties

And glories that have rendered it immortal.

But since I see your blood runs, for the time,

High in that contradiction that fore-runs

Truest agreements (like the elements,

Fighting before they generate) and that time

Must be attended most in things most worth,

I leave your honour freely, and commend

That life you threaten, when you please, to be

Adventured in your service, so your honour

Require it likewise.

Eud.                      Do not come again.

Thar.  I'll come again, believe it, and again.


Eud.  If he shall dare to come again, I charge you

Shut doors upon him.

Arg.                         You must shut them, madam,

To all men else then, if it please your honour;

For if that any enter, he'll be one.

Eud.  I hope, wise sir, a guard will keep him out.

Arg.  Afore Heaven, not a guard, an't please your


Eud.  Thou liest, base ass; one man enforce a guard?

I'll turn ye all away, by our isle's goddess,

If he but set a foot within my gates.

Psor.  Your honour shall do well to have him poisoned.

Hiar.  Or begged of your cousin the Viceroy.



Before the House of Eudora.

Lysander, from his stand.

Lys.  This braving wooer hath the success expected; 

the favour I obtained made me witness to the sport,

and let his confidence be sure, I'll give it him home.

The news by this is blown through the four quarters of

the city. Alas, good confidence! But the happiness is,

he has a forehead of proof; the stain shall never stick

there, whatsoever his reproach be.

Enter Tharsalio.

[Aside] What, in discourse?

Thar.  Hell and the Furies take this vile encounter!

Who would imagine this Saturnian peacock

Could be so barbarous to use a spirit

Of my erection with such low respect?

'Fore Heaven, it cuts my gall; but I'll dissemble it.

Lys.  What, my noble lord?

Thar.  Well, sir, that may be yet, and means to be.

Lys.  What means your lordship, then, to hang that head

that hath been so erected; it knocks, sir, at your bosom 

to come in and hide itself.

Thar.  Not a jot!

Lys.  I hope by this time it needs fear no horns.

Thar.  Well, sir, but yet that blessing runs not always in

a blood.

Lys.  What, blanketed? O the gods! Spurned out by

grooms, like a base bisogno! Thrust out by th' head and


Thar.  You do well, sir, to take your pleasure of me. −

[Aside] I may turn tables with you ere long.

Lys.  What, has thy wit's fine engine taken cold? Art

stuffed in th' head? Canst answer nothing?

Thar.  Truth is, I like my entertainment the better that

'twas no better.

Lys.  Now the gods forbid that this opinion should run

in a blood!

Thar.  Have not you heard this principle, “All things by

strife engender”?

Lys.  Dogs and cats do.

Thar.  And men and women too.

Lys.  Well, brother, in earnest, you have now set your

confidence to school, from whence I hope't has brought

home such a lesson as will instruct his master never 

after to begin such attempts as end in laughter.

Thar.  Well, sir, you lesson my confidence still; I pray

heavens your confidence have not more shallow ground

(for that I know) than mine you reprehend so.

Lys.  My confidence? In what?

Thar.  May be you trust too much.

Lys.  Wherein?

Thar.  In human frailty.

Lys.  Why, brother, know you aught that may impeach

my confidence, as this success may yours? Hath your

observation discovered any such frailty in my wife (for

that is your aim I know) then let me know it.

Thar.  Good, good! Nay, brother, I write no books of

observations; let your confidence bear out itself, as mine

shall me.

Lys.  That's scarce a brother's speech. If there be 

aught wherein your brother's good might any way be

questioned, can you conceal it from his bosom?

Thar.  So, so! Nay, my saying was but general. I

glanced at no particular.

Lys.  Then must I press you further. You spake (as

to yourself, but yet I overheard) as if you knew some

disposition of weakness where I most had fixed my

trust. I challenge you to let me know what 'twas.

Thar.  Brother, are you wise?

Lys.  Why?

Thar.  Be ignorant. Did you never hear of Actӕon?

Lys.  What then?

Thar.  Curiosity was his death. He could not be content 

to adore Diana in her temple, but he must needs dog her

to her retired pleasures, and see her in her nakedness.

Do you enjoy the sole privilege of your wife's bed? 

Have you no pretty Paris for your page? No young

Adonis to front you there?

Lys.  I think none; I know not.

Thar.  Know not still, brother. Ignorance and credulity

are your sole means to obtain that blessing. You see 

your greatest clerks, your wisest politicians are not that 

way fortunate; your learned lawyers would lose a dozen

poor men's causes to gain a lease on't, but for a term.

Your physician is jealous of his. Your sages in general,

by seeing too much, oversee that happiness. Only your

blockheadly tradesman, your honest-meaning citizen,

your nott-headed country gentleman, your

unapprehending stinkard, is blessed with the sole

prerogative of his wife's chamber, for which he is yet

beholding, not to his stars, but to his ignorance. For, if

he be wise, brother, I must tell you the case alters. 

How do you relish these things, brother?

Lys.  Passing ill!

Thar.  So do sick men solid meats. Heark you, brother,

are you not jealous?

Lys.  No; do you know cause to make me?

Thar.  Hold you there! Did your wife never spice your

broth with a dram of sublimate? Hath she not yielded

up the fort of her honour to a staring soldado, and

(taking courage from her guilt) played open bankrout 

of all shame, and run the country with him? Then 

bless your stars, bow your knees to Juno. Look where

she appears.

Enter Cynthia, Hylus and Ero.

Cyn.  We have sought you long, sir; there's a 

messenger within hath brought you letters from the

Court, and desires your speech.

Lys.  [Aside] I can discover nothing in her looks. −

Go, I'll not be long.

Cyn.  Sir, it is of weight, the bearer says; and, besides,

much hastens his departure. − Honourable brother, cry

mercy! What, in a conqueror's style? But come and


Thar.  A fresh course!

Cyn.  Alas, you see of how slight metal widows' vows

are made!

Thar.  [Aside] And that shall you prove too ere long.

Cyn.  Yet, for the honour of our sex, boast not abroad

this your easy conquest; another might perhaps have

stayed longer below stairs, it but was your confidence

that surprised her love.

Hyl.  My uncle hath instructed me how to acoast an

honourable lady; to win her, not by suit, but by surprise.

Thar.  The whelp and all!

Hyl.  Good uncle, let not your near honours change 

your manners; be not forgetful of your promise to me,

touching your lady's daughter, Laodice. My fancy runs

so upon't that I dream every night of her.

Thar.  A good chicken! Go thy ways, thou hast done

well; eat bread with thy meat.

Cyn.  Come, sir, will you in?

Lys.  I'll follow you.

Cyn.  I'll not stir a foot without you. I cannot satisfy the

messenger's impatience.

[He takes Tharsalio aside.]

Lys.  Will you not resolve me, brother?

Thar. Of what?

Lysander stamps and goes out vexed,

 with Cynthia, Hylus, Ero.  

So, there's veney for veney, I have given't him i' th'

speeding place for all his confidence. Well, out of this

perhaps there may be moulded matter of more mirth 

than my baffling. It shall go hard but I’ll make my 

constant sister act as famous a scene as Virgil did his

mistress, who caused all the fire in Rome to fail, so that

none could light a torch but at her nose. Now forth! At

this house dwells a virtuous dame − sometimes of 

worthy fame, now like a decayed merchant turned

broker − and retails refuse commodities for unthrifty

gallants. Her wit I must employ upon this business to

prepare my next encounter, but in such a fashion as

shall make all split. − Ho, Madam Arsace! − Pray 

Heaven the oyster-wives have not brought the news

of my wooing hither amongst their stale pilchards. 

Enter Arsace, Thomasin.

Ars.  What, my lord of the palace?

Thar.  Look you!

Ars.  Why, this was done like a beaten soldier.

Thar.  Hark, I must speak with you. I have a share 

for you in this rich adventure. You must be the ass

charged with crowns to make way to the fort, and I

the conqueror to follow, and seize it. Seest thou this


Ars.  Is't come to that? − Why, Thomasin!

Thom.  Madam!

Ars.  Did not one of the Countess's serving-men tell us

that this gentleman was sped?

Thom.  That he did; and how her honour graced and

entertained him in very familiar manner.

Ars.  And brought him downstairs herself.

Thom.  Ay, forsooth, and commanded her men to bear

him out of doors.

Thar.  'Slight, pelted with rotten eggs?

Ars.  Nay, more; that he had already possessed her


Thom.  No, indeed, mistress, 'twas her blankets. 

Thar.  Out, you young hedge-sparrow; learn to tread

afore you be fledge!

[He kicks her out.]

Well, have you done now, lady?

Ars.  O, my sweet kilbuck!

Thar.  You now, in your shallow pate, think this a

disgrace to me; such a disgrace as is a battered helmet 

on a soldier's head; it doubles his resolution. Say, shall

I use thee?

Ars.  Use me?

Thar.  O holy reformation, how art thou fallen down 

from the upper bodies of the church to the skirts of the

city! Honesty is stripped out of his true substance into

verbal nicety. Common sinners startle at common

terms, and they that by whole mountains swallow down 

the deeds of darkness, a poor mote of a familiar word 

makes them turn up the white o' th’ eye. Thou art the 

lady's tenant.

Ars.  For term, sir.

Thar.  A good induction: be successful for me, make 

me lord of the palace, and thou shalt hold thy tenement 

to thee and thine heirs for ever, in free smockage, as of

the manner of panderage, provided always –

Ars.  Nay, if you take me unprovided!

Thar.  Provided, I say, that thou mak'st thy repair to her

presently with a plot I will instruct thee in; and for thy

surer access to her greatness thou shalt present her, as

from thyself, with this jewel.

Ars.  So her old grudge stand not betwixt her and me.

Thar.  Fear not that.

Presents are present cures for female grudges,

Make bad seem good, alter the case with judges.

[Exit with Arsace.]



A Room in the House of Lysander.

Enter Lysander and Tharsalio.

Lys.  So now we are ourselves. Brother, that ill-relished

speech you let slip from your tongue hath taken so deep

hold of my thoughts, that they will never give me rest 

till I be resolved what 'twas you said, you know, 

touching my wife.

Thar.  Tush, I am weary of this subject! I said not so.

Lys.  By truth itself, you did! I overheard you. Come, it

shall nothing move me, whatsoever it be; pray thee

unfold briefly what you know.

Thar. Why, briefly, brother, I know my sister to be 

the wonder of the earth and the envy of the heavens,

virtuous, loyal, and what not. Briefly, I know she hath

vowed that till death and after death she'll hold inviolate

her bonds to you, and that her black shall take no other

hue, all which I firmly believe. In brief, brother, I know

her to be a woman. But you know, brother, I have other

irons on th' anvil.


Lys.  You shall not leave me so unsatisfied; tell me 

what 'tis you know.

Thar.  Why, brother, if you be sure of your wife's 

loyalty for term of life, why should you be curious to

search the almanacs for after-times, whether some

wandering Æneas should enjoy your reversion, or

whether your true turtle would sit mourning on a

withered branch, till Atropos cut her throat? Beware of

curiosity, for who can resolve you? You'll say, perhaps,

her vow.

Lys.  Perhaps I shall.

Thar.  Tush, herself knows not what she shall do, when

she is transformed into a widow! You are now a sober

and staid gentleman. But if Diana for your curiosity

should translate you into a monkey, do you know what

gambols you should play? Your only way to be resolved

is to die and make trial of her.

Lys.  A dear experiment; then I must rise again to be


Thar.  You shall not need. I can send you speedier

advertisement of her constancy by the next ripier that

rides that way with mackerel. And so I leave you.

[Exit Tharsalio.]

Lys.  All the Furies in hell attend thee! Has given me

A bone to tire on, with a pestilence. 'Slight, know!   

What can he know? What can his eye observe

More than mine own, or the most piercing sight

That ever viewed her? By this light I think

Her privat'st thought may dare the eye of Heaven.

And challenge th' envious world to witness it.

I know him for a wild, corrupted youth,

Whom profane ruffians, squires to bawds and strumpets,

Drunkards spewed out of taverns into th' sinks

Of tap-houses and stews, revolts from manhood,

Debauched perdus, have by their companies 

Turned devil like themselves, and stuffed his soul

With damned opinions and unhallowed thoughts

Of womanhood, of all humanity,

Nay, deity itself.

Enter Lycus.

                        Welcome, friend Lycus.

Lycus.  Have you met with your capricious brother?   

Lys.  He parted hence but now.

Lycus.  And has he yet resolved you of that point you

brake with me about?

Lys.  Yes, he bids me die for further trial of her


Lycus.  That were a strange physic for a jealous

patient; to cure his thirst with a draught of poison. Faith,

sir, discharge your thoughts on't; think 'twas but a buzz

devised by him to set your brains a-work, and divert

your eye from his disgrace. The world hath written your

wife in highest lines of honoured fame; her virtues so

admired in this isle as the report thereof sounds in

foreign ears; and strangers oft arriving here, as some 

rare sight, desire to view her presence, thereby to 

compare the picture with the original.

Nor think he can turn so far rebel to his blood,   

Or to the truth itself, to misconceive

Her spotless love and loyalty; perhaps

Oft having heard you hold her faith so sacred,

As, you being dead, no man might stir a spark

Of virtuous love in way of second bonds,   

As if you at your death should carry with you

Both branch and root of all affectiön,

'T may be, in that point he's an infidel,

And thinks your confidence may overween.

Lys.  So think not I.   

Lycus.  Nor I, if ever any made it good.

I am resolved, of all she'll prove no changeling.

Lys.  Well, I must yet be further satisfied.

And vent this humour by some strain of wit;

Somewhat I'll do, but what I know not yet.



A Room in the House of Eudora.

Enter Sthenia, Ianthe.

Sthen.  Passion of virginity, Ianthe, how shall we quit

ourselves of this pandress that is so importunate to 

speak with us? Is she known to be a pandress?

Ian.  Ay, as well as we are known to be waiting-


Sthen.  A shrew take your comparison!  

Ian.  Let's call out Argus, that bold ass, that never 

weighs what he does or says, but walks and talks like

one in a sleep, to relate her attendance to my lady, and 

present her.

Sthen.  Who, an't please your honour? None so fit to set

on any dangerous exploit. − Ho, Argus!

Enter Argus, bare.

Arg.  What's the matter, wenches?

Sthen.  You must tell my lady here's a gentlewoman

called Arsace, her honour's tenant, attends her to impart

important business to her.

Arg.  I will presently.

[Exit Argus.]

Ian.  Well, she has a welcome present to bear out her

unwelcome presence; and I never knew but a good gift

would welcome a bad person to the purest. − Arsace!

Enter Arsace.

Ars.  Ay, mistress!   

Sthen.  Give me your present; I'll do all I can to make

way both for it and yourself.

Ars.  You shall bind me to your service, lady.

Sthen.  Stand unseen!

Enter Lycus, Eudora, Laodice; Rebus, Hiarbas,

Psorabeus, coming after; Argus coming to Eudora.

Arg. Here's a gentlewoman (an't please your honour)   

one of your tenants, desires access to you.

Eud.  What tenant? What's her name?

Arg.  Arsace, she says, madam.

Eud.  Arsace? What, the bawd?

Arg.  The bawd, madam? That's without my privity.   

[She strikes him.]

Eud.  Out, ass! Know'st not thou the pandress Arsace?

Sthen.  She presents your honour with this jewel.

Eud.  This jewel? How came she by such a jewel?

She has had great customers.

Arg.  She had need, madam; she sits at a great rent.   

Eud.  Alas, for your great rent! I'll keep her jewel, and

keep you her out, ye were best: speak to me for a


Arg.  [Aside] What shall we do?

Sthen.  [Aside] Go to, let us alone! − Arsace!

Ars.  Ay, lady!   

Sthen.  You must pardon us, we cannot obtain your


Ars.  Mistress Sthenia, tell her honour, if I get not 

access to her, and that instantly, she's undone.

Sthen.  This is something of importance − Madam, she   

swears your honour is undone, if she speak not with you


Eud.  Undone?

Ars.  Pray her, for her honour's sake, to give me instant

access to her.   

Sthen.  She makes her business your honour, madam;

and entreats, for the good of that, her instant speech 

with you.

Eud.  How comes my honour in question? Bring her 

to me.   

[Arsace advances.]

Ars.  Our Cyprian goddess save your good honour!

Eud.  Stand you off, I pray. How dare you, mistress,

importune access to me thus, considering the last

warning I gave for your absence?

Ars.  Because, madam, I have been moved by your   

honour's last most chaste admonition to leave the

offensive life I led before.

Eud.  Ay? Have you left it then?

Ars.  Ay, I assure your honour, unless it be for the

pleasure of two or three poor ladies, that have prodigal

knights to their husbands.

Eud.  Out on thee, impudent!

Ars.  Alas, madam, we would all be glad to live in our


Eud.  Is this the reformed life thou talk'st on?   

Ars.  I beseech your good honour mistake me not, I 

boast of nothing but my charity, that's the worst.

Eud.  You get these jewels with charity, no doubt. But

what's the point in which my honour stands endangered,

I pray?   

Ars.  In care of that, madam, I have presumed to 

offend your chaste eyes with my presence. Hearing it

reported for truth and generally that your honour will

take to husband a young gentleman of this city called

Tharsalio −

Eud.  I take him to husband?   

Ars.  If your honour does, you are utterly undone, for 

he's the most incontinent and insatiate man of women 

that ever Venus blessed with ability to please them.

Eud.  Let him be the devil! I abhor his thought, and 

could I be informed particularly of any of these

slanderers of mine honour, he should as dearly dare it

as anything wherein his life were endangered.

Ars.  Madam, the report of it is so strongly confident, 

that I fear the strong destiny of marriage is at work in it.

But if it be, madam, let your honour's known virtues    

resist and defy it for him, for not a hundred will serve

his one turn. I protest to your honour, when (Venus

pardon me) I winked at my unmaidenly exercise, I have

known nine in a night made mad with his love.

Eud.  What tell'st thou me of his love? I tell thee I 

abhor him, and destiny must have another mould for my

thoughts than Nature or mine honour, and a witchcraft

above both, to transform me to another shape as soon as

to another conceit of him.

Ars.  Then is your good honour just as I pray for you;

and, good madam, even for your virtue's sake, and

comfort of all your dignities and possessions, fix your

whole womanhood against him. He will so enchant you,

as never man did woman: nay, a goddess (say his

light huswives) is not worthy of his sweetness.    

Eud.  Go to, begone!

Ars.  Dear madam, your honour's most perfect

admonitions have brought me to such a hate of these

imperfections, that I could not but attend you with my

duty, and urge his unreasonable manhood to the fill.

Eud.  Manhood, quoth you?

Ars.  Nay, beastlihood, I might say, indeed, madam, but

for saving your honour. Nine in a night, said I?

Eud.  Go to, no more!

Ars.  No more, madam? That's enough, one would 


Eud.  Well, begone, I bid thee!

Ars.  Alas, madam, your honour is the chief of our city,

and to whom shall I complain of these inchastities

(being your ladyship's reformed tenant) but to you that

are chastest?    

Eud.  I pray thee go thy ways, and let me see this

reformation you pretend continued.

Ars.  I humbly thank your good honour that was first

cause of it.

Eud.  Here's a complaint as strange as my suitor.    

Ars.  I beseech your good honour think upon him, make

him an example.

Eud.  Yet again?

Ars.  All my duty to your Excellence!

[Exit Arsace.]

Eud.  These sorts of licentious persons, when they are    

once reclaimed, are most vehement against licence. But

it is the course of the world to dispraise faults and use

them, that so we may use them the safer. What might a

wise widow resolve upon this point, now? Contentment

is the end of all worldly beings. Beshrew her, would she

had spared her news!


Reb.  See if she take not a contrary way to free herself

of us.

Hiar.  You must complain to his Altitude.

Psor.  All this for trial is; you must endure    

That will have wives, nought else with them is sure.

[Exit Rebus with the others.]


Before the House of Eudora.

Enter Tharsalio, Arsace.

Thar.  Hast thou been admitted, then?

Ars.  Admitted? Ay, into her heart, I'll able it; never 

was man so praised with a dispraise; nor so spoken for 

in being railed on. I'll give you my word, I have set her

heart upon as tickle a pin as the needle of a dial, that

will never let it rest till it be in the right position.

Thar.  Why dost thou imagine this?

Ars.  Because I saw Cupid shoot in my words, and 

open his wounds in her looks. Her blood went and

came of errands betwixt her face and her heart, and

these changes I can tell you are shrewd tell-tales.

Thar.  Thou speak'st like a doctress in thy faculty; but,

howsoever, for all this foil I'll retrieve the game once

again; he's a shallow gamester that for one displeasing

cast gives up so fair a game for lost.   

Ars.  Well, 'twas a villanous invention of thine, and had 

a swift operation; it took like sulphur. And yet this

virtuous Countess hath to my ear spun out many a

tedious lecture of pure sister's thread against

concupiscence; but ever with such an affected zeal as 

my mind gave me she had a kind of secret titillation to

grace my poor house sometimes, but that she feared a

spice of the sciatica, which, as you know, ever runs in

the blood.

Thar.  And, as you know, soaks into the bones. But to 

say truth, these angry heats that break out at the lips of

these strait-laced ladies, are but as symptoms of a lustful

fever that boils within them. For wherefore rage wives

at their husbands so when they fly out? For zeal against

the sin?

Ars.  No, but because they did not purge that sin.   

Thar.  Th' art a notable siren, and I swear to thee, if I

prosper, not only to give thee thy manor-house gratis,

but to marry thee to some one knight or other, and bury

thy trade in thy ladyship. Go, begone!

[Exit Arsace.]

Enter Lycus.

Thar.  What news, Lycus? Where's the lady?   

Lycus.  Retired into her orchard.

Thar.  A pregnant badge of love, she's melancholy. –

Lycus.  'Tis with the sight of her Spartan wooer. But

howsoever 'tis with her, you have practised strangely

upon your brother.   

Thar.  Why so?

Lycus.  You had almost lifted his wit off the hinges. 

That spark jealousy, falling into his dry, melancholy 

brain, had well near set the whole house on fire.

Thar.  No matter, let it work; I did but pay him in's 

own coin. 'Sfoot, he plied me with such a volley of

unseasoned scoffs, as would have made Patience itself

turn ruffian, attiring itself in wounds and blood. But is

his humour better qualified, then?

Lycus.  Yes, but with a medicine ten parts more

dangerous than the sickness: you know how strange his

dotage ever was on his wife, taking special glory to have

her love and loyalty to him so renowned abroad; to

whom she often-times hath vowed constancy after life,

till her own death had brought, forsooth, her widow-

troth to bed. This he joyed in strangely, and was therein

of infallible belief, till your surmise began to shake it;

which hath loosed it so, as now there's nought can settle

it but a trial, which he's resolved upon.

Thar.  As how, man, as how?

Lycus.  He is resolved to follow your advice, to die and

make trial of her stableness; and you must lend your

hand to it.

Thar.  What, to cut 's throat?

Lycus.  To forge a rumour of his death, to uphold it by

circumstance, maintain a public face of mourning, and

all things appertaining.

Thar.  Ay, but the means, man? What time? What


Lycus.  Nay, I think he has not licked his whelp into full

shape yet, but you shall shortly hear on 't.   

Thar.  And when shall this strange conception see light?

Lycus.  Forthwith; there's nothing stays him but some

odd business of import, which he must wind up; lest,

perhaps, his absence by occasion of his intended trial 

be prolonged above his aims.   

Thar.  Thanks for this news, i'faith! This may perhaps

prove happy to my nephew. Truth is, I love my sister

well and must acknowledge her more than ordinary

virtues. But she hath so possessed my brother's heart

with vows and disavowings, sealed with oaths, of 

second nuptials, as, in that confidence, he hath invested

her in all his state, the ancient inheritance of our family;

and left my nephew and the rest to hang upon her pure

devotion; so as he dead, and she matching (as I am

resolved she will) with some young prodigal, what must

ensue, but her post-issue beggared, and our house,

already sinking, buried quick in ruin. But this trial may

remove it; and since 'tis come to this, mark but the issue,

Lycus; for all these solemn vows, if I do not make her

prove in the handling as weak as a wafer, say I lost my

time in travel. This resolution, then, has set his wits 

in joint again; he's quiet?

Lycus.  Yes, and talks of you again in the fairest

manner; listens after your speed –

Thar.  Nay, he's passing kind; but I am glad of this trial,

for all that.  

Lycus.  Which he thinks to be a flight beyond your wing.

Thar.  But he will change that thought ere long. My bird

you saw even now sings me good news, and makes

hopeful signs to me.

Lycus.  Somewhat can I say too. Since your  

messenger's departure her ladyship hath been

something altered − more pensive than before − and

took occasion to question of you, what your addictions

were, of what taste your humour was, of what cut you 

wore your wit? And all this in a kind of disdainful scorn.    

Thar.  Good calendars, Lycus! Well, I'll pawn this jewel

with thee, my next encounter shall quite alter my

brother's judgment. Come, let's in; he shall commend 

it for a discreet and honourable attempt.

Men's judgments sway on that side Fortune leans,

Thy wishes shall assist me.

Lycus.                                And my means.



Enter Argus, Clinias, Sthenia, Ianthe.

Arg.  I must confess I was ignorant what 'twas to court

a lady till now.

Sthen.  And I pray you, what is it now?

Arg.  To court her, I perceive, is to woo her with letters

from Court; for so this Spartan lord's Court discipline


Sthen.  His lordship hath procured a new packet from

his Altitude.

Clin.  If he bring no better ware than letters in's packet,

I shall greatly doubt of his good speed.   

Ian.  If his lordship did but know how gracious his

aspect is to my lady in this solitary humour.

Clin.  Well, these retired walks of hers are not usual, 

and bode some alteration in her thoughts. What may

be the cause, Sthenia? 

Sthen.  Nay, 'twould trouble Argus with his hundred 

eyes to descry the cause.

Ian.  Venus keep her upright, that she fall not from the

state of her honour; my fear is that some of these

serpentine suitors will tempt her from her constant vow

of widowhood. If they do, good night to our good days!

Sthen.  'Twere a sin to suspect her: I have been witness

to so many of her fearful protestations to our late lord

against that course; to her infinite oaths imprinted on his

lips, and sealed in his heart with such imprecations to

her bed, if ever it should receive a second impression;

to her open and often destestations of that incestuous 

life (as she termed it) of widows' marriages, as being

but a kind of lawful adultery, like usury permitted by

the law, not approved; that to wed a second, was no

better than to cuckold the first; that women should

entertain wedlock as one body, as one life, beyond

which there were no desire, no thought, no repentance

from it, no restitution to it: so as if the conscience of her

vows should not restrain her, yet the world's shame to

break such a constant resolution, should repress any

such motion in her.

Arg.  Well, for vows, they are gone to Heaven with her

husband, they bind not upon earth; and as for women's

resolutions, I must tell you, the planets, and (as Ptolemy

says) the winds have a great stroke in them. Trust not   

my learning if her late strangeness and exorbitant

solitude be not hatching some new monster.

Ian.  Well applied, Argus; make you husbands 


Arg.  I spoke of no husbands: but you wenches have 

the pregnant wits to turn monsters into husbands, as 

you turn husbands into monsters.

Sthen.  Well, Ianthe, 'twere high time we made in to 

part our lady and her Spartan wooer.

Ian.  We shall appear to her like the two fortunate stars

in a tempest to save the shipwrack of her patience.

Sthen.  Ay, and to him too, I believe; for by this time he

hath spent the last dram of his news.

Arg.  That is, of his wit.

Sthen.  Just, good wittols!

Ian.  If not, and that my lady be not too deep in her new

dumps, we shall hear from his lordship what such a lord

said of his wife the first night he embraced her; to what

gentleman such a count was beholding for his fine

children; what young lady such an old count should

marry; what revels, what presentments, are towards; 

and who penned the pegmas, and so forth: and yet, for 

all this, I know her harsh suitor hath tired her to the

uttermost scruple of her forbearance, and will do more,

unless we two, like a pair of shears, cut asunder the

thread of his discourse.   

Sthen.  Well then, let's in; but, my masters, wait you 

on your charge at your perils, see that you guard her

approach from any more intruders.

Ian.  Excepting young Tharsalio.

Sthen.  True, excepting him indeed, for a guard of men   

is not able to keep him out, an't please your honour.

Arg.  Oh, wenches, that's the property of true valour, 

to promise like a pigmy and perform like a giant. If he

come, I'll be sworn I'll do my lady's commandment upon


Ian.  What, beat him out?

Sthen.  If he should, Tharsalio would not take it ill at his

hands, for he does but his lady's commandment.

Enter Tharsalio.

Arg.  Well, by Hercules, he comes not here!

Sthen.  By Venus, but he does: or else she hath heard 

my lady's prayers, and sent some gracious spirit in his

likeness to fright away that Spartan wooer that haunts


Thar.  There stand her sentinels.

Arg.  'Slight, the ghost appears again!

Thar.  Save ye, my quondam fellows in arms! Save ye,

my women!

Sthen.  Your women, sir?

Thar.  'Twill be so. What, no courtesies? No 

preparation of grace? Observe me, I advise you for

your own sakes.

Ian.  For your own sake, I advise you to pack hence, 

lest your impudent valour cost you dearer than you think.

Clin.  What senseless boldness is this, Tharsalio?

Arg.  Well said, Clinias, talk to him.

Clin.  I wonder that notwithstanding the shame of your

last entertainment, and threatenings of worse, you would   

yet presume to trouble this place again.

Thar.  Come, y' are a widgeon; off with your hat, sir,

acknowledge! Forecast is better than labour. Are you

squint-eyed? Can you not see afore you? A little

foresight, I can tell you, might stead you much, 

as the stars shine now.    

Clin.  'Tis well, sir, 'tis not for nothing your brother is

ashamed on you. But, sir, you must know, we are

charged to bar your entrance.

Thar.  But, whiffler, know you, that whoso shall dare to

execute that charge, I'll be his executioner.    

Arg.  By Jove, Clinias, methinks the gentleman speaks

very honourably.

Thar.  Well, I see this house needs reformation; here's

a fellow stands behind now of a forwarder insight than

ye all. − What place hast thou?

Arg.  What place you please, sir.

Thar.  Law you, sir! Here's a fellow to make a 

gentleman usher, sir! I discharge you of the place,

and do here invest thee into his room. Make much of

thy hair, thy wit will suit it rarely. And for the full

possession of thine office, come, usher me to thy lady;

and to keep thy hand supple, take this from me.

Arg.  No bribes, sir, an't please your worship!

Thar.  Go to, thou dost well, but pocket it for all that; 

it's no impair to thee, the greatest do 't.    

Arg.  Sir, 'tis your love only that I respect, but since out

of your love you please to bestow it upon me, it were

want of courtship in me to refuse it; I'll acquaint my 

lady with your coming.

[Exit Argus.]

Thar.  How say by this? Have not I made a fit choice, 

that hath so soon attained the deepest mystery of his

profession? Good sooth, wenches, a few courtesies 

had not been cast away upon your new lord.

Sthen.  We'll believe that, when our lady has a new son

of your getting.    

Enter Argus, Eudora, Rebus, Hiarbas, Psorabeus.

Eud.  What's the matter? Who's that you say is come?

Arg.  The bold gentleman, an't please your honour.

Eud.  Why, thou fleering ass, thou –

Arg.  An't please your honour.

Eud.  Did not I forbid his approach by all the charge 

and duty of thy service?

Thar.  Madam, this fellow only is intelligent; for he 

truly understood his command according to the style

of the Court of Venus, that is, by contraries: when you

forbid, you bid.    

Eud.  By Heaven, I'll discharge my house of ye all!

Thar.  You shall not need, madam, for I have already

cashiered your officious usher here, and choosed this

for his successor.

Eud.  O incredible boldness!    

Thar.  Madam, I come not to command your love with

enforced letters, nor to woo you with tedious stories of

my pedigree, as he who draws the thread of his descent

from Leda's distaff, when 'tis well known his grandsire

cried cony skins in Sparta.    

Reb.  Whom mean you, sir?

Thar.  Sir, I name none but him who first shall name


Reb.  The place, sir, I tell you still, and this goddess's 

fair presence, or else my reply should take a far other   

form upon 't.

Thar.  If it should, sir, I would make your lordship an


Arg.  Anser's Latin for a goose, an't please your


Eud.  Well noted, gander; and what of that?    

Arg.  Nothing, an't please your honour, but that he said 

he would make his lordship an answer.

Eud.  Thus every fool mocks my poor suitor. Tell me,

thou most frontless of all men, didst thou (when thou

hadst means to note me best) ever observe so base a

temper in me as to give any glance at stooping to my


Thar.  Your drudge, madam, to do your drudgery.

Eud.  Or am I now so scant of worthy suitors that may

advance mine honour, advance my estate, strengthen my

alliance (if I list to wed) that I must stoop to make my

foot my head?

Thar.  No, but your side, to keep you warm a-bed. But,

madam, vouchsafe me your patience to that point's

serious answer. Though I confess, to get higher place in

your graces, I could wish my fortunes more honourable,

my person more gracious, my mind more adorned with

noble and heroical virtues, yet, madam (that you think

not your blood disparaged by mixture with mine) deign

to know this: howsoever, I once, only for your love,

disguised myself in the service of your late lord and

mine, yet my descent is as honourable as the proudest 

of your Spartan attempters, who, by unknown quills

or conduits underground, draws his pedigree from

Lycurgus his great toe to the Viceroy's little finger, and

from thence to his own elbow, where it will never leave


Reb.  'Tis well, sir; presume still of the place.

Thar.  'Sfoot, madam, am I the first great personage 

that hath stooped to disguises for love? What think you 

of our countryman Hercules, that for love put on

Omphale's apron and sate spinning amongst her

wenches, while his mistress wore his lion's skin, and

lamb-skinned him if he did not his business?

Eud.  Most fitly thou resemblest thyself to that violent

outlaw that claimed all other men's possessions as his

own by his mere valour. For what less hast thou done?

Come into my house, beat away these honourable

persons –

Thar.  That I will, madam. − Hence, ye Sparta-velvets!

[Beating them.]

Psor.  Hold, she did not mean so.

Thar.  Away, I say, or leave your lives, I protest, here.

Hiar.  Well, sir, his Altitude shall know you.    

Reb.  I'll do your errand, sir.


Thar.  Do, good cousin Altitude, and beg the reversion 

of the next lady, for Dido has betrothed her love to me.

By this fair hand, madam, a fair riddance of this

Calydonian boar.    

Eud.  O most prodigious audaciousness!

Thar.  True, madam! O fie upon 'em, they are

intolerable! And I cannot but admire your singular

virtue of patience, not common in your sex, and must

therefore carry with it some rare endowment of other

masculine and heroical virtues. To hear a rude Spartan

court so ingenuous a lady, with dull news from Athens

or the Viceroy's Court; how many dogs were spoiled

at the last bull-baiting, what ladies dubbed their

husbands knights, and so forth!

Eud.  But hast thou no shame? No sense of what

disdain I showed thee in my last entertainment, chasing

thee from my presence, and charging thy duty not to

attempt the like intrusion for thy life; and dar'st thou

yet approach me in this unmannerly manner? No

question this desperate boldness cannot choose but go

accompanied with other infinite rudenesses.

Thar.  Good madam, give not the child an unfit

name, term it not boldness which the sages call true

confidence, founded on the most infallible rock of a

woman's constancy.

Eud.  If shame cannot restrain thee, tell me yet if any    

brainless fool would have tempted the danger attending

thy approach.

Thar.  No, madam, that proves I am no fool. Then had I

been here a fool and a base, low-spirited Spartan, if for

a lady's frown, or a lord's threats, or for a guard of

grooms, I should have shrunk in the wetting, and

suffered such a delicious flower to perish in the stalk,

or to be savagely plucked by a profane finger. No,

madam, first let me be made a subject for disgrace; let

your remorseless guard seize on my despised body, bind

me hand and foot, and hurl me into your ladyship's bed.

Eud.  O gods! I protest thou dost more and more make

me admire thee.

Thar.  Madam, ignorance is the mother of admiration:

know me better, and you'll admire me less.     

Eud.  What would'st thou have me know? What seeks 

thy coming? Why dost thou haunt me thus?

Thar.  Only, madam, that the Ætna of my sighs and

Nilus of my tears, poured forth in your presence, might

witness to your honour the hot and moist affection of     

my heart, and work me some measure of favour from 

your sweet tongue, or your sweeter lips, or what else 

your good ladyship shall esteem more conducible to 

your divine contentment.

Eud.  Pen and ink-horn, I thank thee! This you learned

when you were a serving-man.

Thar.  Madam, I am still the same creature; and I will 

so tie my whole fortunes to that style, as, were it my

happiness (as I know it will be) to mount into

my lord's succession, yet vow I never to assume other

title, or state, than your servant's: not approaching your

board, but bidden; not pressing to your bed, but your

pleasure shall be first known, if you will command me

any service.

Eud.  Thy vows are as vain as a ruffian's oaths, as

common as the air, and as cheap as the dust. How many

of the light huswives, thy muses, hath thy love promised

this service besides, I pray thee?

Thar.  Compare shadows to bodies, madam, pictures to

the life; and such are they to you, in my valuation.

Eud.  I see words will never free me of thy boldness,     

and will therefore now use blows; and those of the

mortallest enforcement. Let it suffice, sir, that all this

time, and to this place, you enjoy your safety; keep

back; no one foot follow me further; for I protest to

thee, the next threshold past, lets pass a prepared

ambush to thy latest breath.    

[Exit Eudora.]

Thar.  [He draws] This for your ambush!

Dare my love with death?


Clin.  'Slight! Follow, an't please your honour!

Arg.  Not I, by this light!

Clin.  I hope, gentlewomen, you will.    

Sthen.  Not we, sir, we are no parters of frays.

Clin.  Faith, nor I'll be any breaker of customs.




Before the House of Lysander.

Enter Lysander and Lycus, booted.

Lycus.  Would any heart of adamant, for satisfaction of

an ungrounded humour, rack a poor lady's innocency as

you intend to do? It was a strange curiosity in that

Emperor that ripped his mother's womb to see the place

he lay in.

Lys.  Come, do not load me with volumes of persuasion;  

I am resolved, if she be gold she may abide the test; let's

away. I wonder where this wild brother is.

Enter Cynthia, Hylus, and Ero.

Cyn.  Sir!

Lys.  I pray thee, wife, show but thyself a woman, and 

be silent; question no more the reason of my journey,

which our great Viceroy's charge, urged in this letter, 

doth enforce me to.

Cyn.  Let me but see that letter. There is something

In this presaging blood of mine, tells me

This sudden journey can portend no good;   

Resolve me, sweet; have not I given you cause

Of discontent by some misprisiön,

Or want of fit observance? Let me know,

That I may wreak myself upon myself.

Lys.  Come, wife, our love is now grown old and staid,   

And must not wanton it in tricks of court,

Nor interchanged delights of melting lovers,

Hanging on sleeves, sighing, loath to depart;

These toys are past with us; our true love's substance

Hath worn out all the show; let it suffice,

I hold thee dear; and think some cause of weight,

With no excuse to be dispensed withal,

Compels me from thy most desired embraces.

I stay but for my brother; came he not in last night?

Hyl.  For certain no, sir, which gave us cause of    

wonder what accident kept him abroad.

Cyn.  Pray Heaven it prove not some wild resolution, 

bred in him by his second repulse from the Countess.

Lys.  Trust me, I something fear it, this insatiate spirit of

aspiring being so dangerous and fatal; desire, mounted  

on the wings of it, descends not but headlong.

Enter Tharsalio cloaked.

Hyl.  Sir, sir, here's my uncle.

Lys.  What, wrapp'd in careless cloak, face hid in hat

unbanded! These are the ditches, brother, in which

outraging colts plunge both themselves and their riders.   

Thar.  Well, we must get out as well as we may; if not,

there's the making of a grave saved.

Cyn.  That's desperately spoken, brother; had it not

been happier the colt had been better broken, and his

rider not fallen in?

Thar.  True, sister, but we must ride colts before we 

can break them, you know.

Lys.  This is your blind goddess Confidence.

Thar.  Alas, brother, our house is decayed, and my 

honest ambition to restore it I hope be pardonable. My

comfort is: the poet that pens the story will write o'er

my head

Magnis tamen excidit ausis!

Which, in our native idiom, lets you know

His mind was high, though Fortune was his foe.

Lys.  A good resolve, brother, to out-jest disgrace.    

Come, I had been on my journey but for some private

speech with you; let's in.

Thar.  Good brother, stay a little, help out this ragged 

colt out of the ditch.

[Uncloaks and reveals a splendid suit.]

Lys.  How now?   

Thar.  Now I confess my oversight, this have I 

purchased by my confidence.

Lys.  I like you, brother, 'tis the true garb, you know,

What wants in real worth supply in show.

Thar.  In show? Alas, 'twas even the thing itself;   

I op'd my counting house, and took away

These simple fragments of my treasury.

“Husband,” my Countess cried, “take more, more yet”;

Yet I, in haste to pay in part my debt,

And prove myself a husband of her store,   

Kissed and came off, and this time took no more.

Cyn.  But good brother –

Thar.  Then were our honoured spousal rites performed,

We made all short, and sweet, and close, and sure.

Lys.  He's rapt.

Thar.  Then did my ushers and chief servants stoop,

Then made my women curtsies and envíed

Their lady's fortune: I was magnified.

Lys.  Let him alone, this spirit will soon vanish.

Thar.  Brother and sister, as I love you, and am true   

servant to Venus, all the premises are serious and true,

and the conclusion is: the great Countess is mine, the

palace is at your service, to which I invite you all to

solemnize my honoured nuptials.

Lys.  Can this be credited?   

Thar.  Good brother, do not you envy my fortunate


Lys.  Nay, I ever said the attempt was commendable –

Thar.  Good!

Lys.  If the issue were successful.   

Thar.  A good state conclusion; happy events make 

good the worst attempts. Here are your widow-vows, 

sister; thus are ye all in your pure naturals; certain 

moral disguises of coyness, which the ignorant call 

modesty, ye borrow of art to cover your busk points;

which a blunt and resolute encounter, taken under a

fortunate aspect, easily disarms you of; and then, alas,

what are you? Poor naked sinners, God wot! Weak

paper walls thrust down with a finger. This is the way

on't, boil their appetites to a full height of lust; and then

take them down in the nick.

Cyn.  Is there probability in this, that a lady so great, so

virtuous, standing on so high terms of honour, should so

soon stoop?

Thar.  You would not wonder, sister, if you knew the 

lure she stooped at. Greatness? Think you that can curb

affection? No, it whets it more; they have the full stream

of blood to bear them, the sweet gale of their sublimed

spirits to drive them, the calm of ease to prepare them,

the sunshine of fortune to allure them, greatness to waft

them safe through all rocks of infamy. When youth, wit,

and person come aboard once, tell me, sister, can you

choose no but hoise sail, and put forward to the main?

Lys.  But let me wonder at this frailty yet;

Would she in so short time wear out his memory,

So soon wipe from her eyes, nay, from her heart,

Whom I myself, and this whole isle besides,

Still remember with grief, the impression of his loss

Taking worthily such root in us;

How think you, wife?

Cyn.  I am ashamed on't, and abhor to think

So great and vowed a pattern of our sex

Should take into her thoughts, nay, to her bed

(O stain to womanhood!) a second love.

Lycus.  In so short time!

Cyn.                         In any time!

Lys.                                           No, wife?

Cyn.  By Juno, no; sooner a loathsome toad!

Thar.  High words, believe me, and I think she'll keep

them. − Next turn is yours, nephew; you shall now 

marry my noblest lady-daughter; the first marriage in

Paphos next my nuptials shall be yours. These are 

strange occurrents, brother, but pretty and pathetical;

if you see me in my chair of honour, and my Countess

in mine arms, you will then believe, I hope, I am lord

of the palace; then shall you try my great lady's 

entertainment, see your hands freed of me, and mine

taking you to advancement.

Lys.  Well, all this rids not my business. Wife, you shall

be there to partake the unexpected honour of our house.    

Lycus and I will make it our recreation by the way to

think of your revels and nuptial sports. − Brother, my 

stay hath been for you. − Wife, pray thee be gone, and 

soon prepare for the solemnity; a month returns me.

Cyn.  Heavens guide your journey!    

Lys.  Farewell!  

Thar.  Farewell, nephew; prosper in virility; but − do 

you hear? − keep your hand from your voice; I have a 

part for you in our hymeneal show.

Hyl.  You speak too late for my voice; but I'll discharge

the part.

[Exit Cynthia, Hylus and Ero.]

Lys.  Occurrents call ye them? Foul shame confound

them all! That impregnable fort of chastity and loyalty,

that amazement of the world − O ye deities, could

nothing restrain her? I took her spirit to be too haughty  

for such a depression.

Thar.  But who commonly more short-heeled than they

that are high i' th' instep?

Lys.  Methinks yet shame should have controlled so

sudden an appetite.    

Thar.  Tush, shame doth extinguish lust as oil doth fire!

The blood once het, shame doth inflame the more,

What they before by art dissembled most,

They act more freely; shame once found is lost;

And to say truth, brother, what shame is due to't? Or

what congruence doth it carry, that a young lady,

gallant, vigorous, full of spirit and complexion, her

appetite new-whetted with nuptial delights, to be

confined to the speculation of a death's-head; or, for

the loss of a husband, the world affording flesh enough,

make the noontide of her years the sunset of her


Lycus.  And yet there have been such women.

Thar.  Of the first stamp, perhaps, when the metal was

purer than in these degenerate days. Of later years 

much of that coin hath been counterfeit, and besides, 

so cracked and worn with use, that they are grown light,

and indeed fit for nothing but to be turned over in play.

Lys. Not all, brother!

Thar.  My matchless sister only excepted; for she, you

know, is made of another metal than that she borrowed

of her mother. But do you, brother, sadly intend the

pursuit of this trial?

Lys.  Irrevocably.

Thar.  It's a high project; if it be once raised, the earth 

is too weak to bear so weighty an accident; it cannot be

conjured down again without an earthquake: therefore

believe she will be constant.

Lys.  No, I will not.

Thar.  Then believe she will not be constant.

Lys.  Neither! I will believe nothing but what trial

enforces. Will you hold your promise for the governing

of this project with skill and secrecy?

Thar.  If it must needs be so. But heark you, brother;

have you no other capricions in your head to entrap my

sister in her frailty, but to prove the firmness of her

widow-vows after your supposed death?

Lys.  None in the world.

Thar.  Then here's my hand; I'll be as close as my

lady's shoe to her foot, that pinches and pleases her, and

will bear on with the plot till the vessel split again.    

Lys.  Forge any death, so you can force belief.

Say I was poisoned, drowned.

Thar.                                   Hanged!

Lys.                                                Anything,

So you assist it with likely circumstance; I need not

instruct you; that must be your employment, Lycus.

Lycus.  Well, sir!

Thar.  But, brother, you must set in, too, to countenance

truth out; a hearse there must be too. It's strange to 

think how much the eye prevails in such impressions; I

have marked a widow, that just before was seen 

pleasant enough, follow an empty hearse and weep  


Lycus.  All those things leave to me.

Lys.  But, brother, for the bestowing of this hearse in 

the monument of our family, and the marshalling of a

funeral –

Thar.  Leave that to my care, and if I do not do the     

mourner as lively as your heir, and weep as lustily as

your widow, say there's no virtue in onions: that being

done, I'll come to visit the distressed widow, apply old

ends of comfort to her grief, but the burden of my song

shall be to tell her words are but dead comforts; and

therefore counsel her to take a living comfort, that might

ferret out the thought of her dead husband; and will

come prepared with choice of suitors, either my Spartan

lord for grace at the Viceroy's Court, or some great

lawyer that may solder up her cracked estate, and so

forth. But what would you say, brother, if you should

find her married at your arrival?

Lys.  By this hand, split her weasand!

Thar.  Well, forget not your wager, a stately chariot 

with four brave horses of the Thracian breed, with all

appurtenances. I'll prepare the like for you, if you prove

victor. But, well remembered, where will you lurk the


Lys.  Mewed up close, some short day's journey hence;

Lycus shall know the place. Write still how all things

pass. Brother, adieu; all joy attend you!

Thar.  Will you not stay our nuptial now so near?    

Lys.  I should be like a man that hears a tale

And heeds it not, one absent from himself.

My wife shall attend the countess, and my son.

Thar.  Whom you shall hear at your return call me

Father. Adieu; Jove be your speed.    

My nuptials done, your funerals succeed.



A Room in the House of Eudora.

Enter Argus barehead.

Arg.  A hall, a hall! Who's without there?

Enter two or three with cushions.

Come on, y'are proper grooms, are ye not? 'Slight, I

think y'are all bridegrooms, ye take your pleasures so. A

company of dormice! Their honours are upon coming,

and the room not ready. Rushes and seats instantly!

Enter Tharsalio.

Thar.  Now, alas, fellow Argus, how thou art cumbered

with an office!

Arg.  Perfume, sirrah, the room's dampish.

Thar.  Nay, you may leave that office to the ladies, 

they'll perfume it sufficiently.

Arg.  [perceiving Tharsalio] Cry mercy, sir! Here's 

a whole chorus of Sylvans at hand, cornetting and  

tripping o' th' toe, as the ground they trod on were too

hot for their feet. The device is rare; and there's your

young nephew too, he hangs in the clouds deified with

Hymen's shape.

Thar.  Is he perfect in's part? Has not his tongue learned

of the Sylvans to trip o' th' toe?

Arg.  Sir, believe it, he does it preciously for accent and

action, as if he felt the part he played; he ravishes all the   

young wenches in the palace; pray Venus my young 

lady Laodice have not some little prick of Cupid in her,

she's so diligent at's rehearsals.

Thar.  No force, so my next vows be heard, that  

if Cupid have pricked her, Hymen may cure her.   

Arg.  You mean your nephew, sir, that presents


Thar.  Why, so! I can speak nothing but thou art within

me; fie of this wit of thine, 'twill be thy destruction! But